Aims Our objective was to examine the possibility of using SmartRoot, free software based on ImageJ, for the measurement of fine root length, surface area, volume and diameter of Hevea brasiliensis.
Methods Photos were taken at heights of 15 and 40 cm from the fine root samples before the samples were subjected to comparison for accuracy of measurement of fine root length, surface area, volume and diameter of H. brasiliensis. The same images were analyzed manually and semi-automatically as well. Then the results obtained from SmartRoot were compared with those from WinRhizo, an expensive, popular, professional software for root analysis.
Important findings The average normal root mean square errors (NRMSE) between 15 and 40 cm height for fine root length, surface area, volume and diameter were 2.87%, 15.73%, 32.38% and 16.88%, respectively. In addition, the NRMSE between manual and semi-automatic analysis for the same morphological parameters were 3.06%, 21.00%, 40.96% and 11.64%, respectively. Furthermore the NRMSE between SmartRoot and WinRhizo on fine root length, surface area, volume and diameter were 5.31%, 9.37%, 9.61% and 5.77%, respectively, signifying a high consistency between the two software systems. The results indicated that it is feasible to employ the SmartRoot system for determination of fine-root morphological parameters of H. brasiliensis due to its satisfactory accuracy, reliability, easy operation and time-saving advantages. For better accuracy, photos are recommended to be taken at the height of 15 cm and analyzed with the semi-automatic method.